Travelling on the Outer Ring Road that connects Hyderabads international airport to,among other places,Gachibowli,where the Indian School of Business (ISB) is situated,is a breeze. It,by far,is the finest approach roads to any major airport in India. The image you make is of youthfulness. All around you see barren land being turned into a 21st century India. Probably a fitting approach to the youngest institution ever to be considered a top global business school by the Financial Times.
So,while going around the campus,just before meeting Deepak Chandra,the deputy dean of ISB,what rings into my mind is there is something called evolution,there is something called creation Before I think beyond,Mr Chandra,whom I greet in front of the Academic Centre,says,Innovation! What you see all around is nothing but innovation, he says with a smile,adding,why some institutes reach the highest standards is because they continue to innovate. As we climb up the ramp (the Centre is on a small hillock),he adds,You see you are walking faster than me! Being young has an advantage,one is energetic,and that energy,put to right use,reflects into excellence. Indeed,thats what I see around me.
By the time we reach his office,I think about the change going on with the very idea of management education,what with the 2008 subprime financial crisis,eurozone troubles et al. What are the upcoming trends in management education? I ask him. The worlds is becoming multi-polar,the centre of gravity for economic activity is being shifted. So,management education will incorporate that trend. Earlier a lot of business school education used to be developed on the basis of developed markets,but with the advent of multi-polar world and distributed economic activity,management education is incorporating that trend. What we will soon see is more partnerships between business schools,and wider distribution of business schools, he replies.
Over a cup of coffee,I mention the Financial Times rankings and ask him,What changes ISB has gone through since the time it got immediate global recognition? Well,immense, he says. Over the last four years,ISBs PGP class size has grown by over 35% to a current size of 570 students. Additionally,we also pioneered the one-year programme format in India,targeted at experienced professionals. In the process,we have built a strong culture of research with a track record of several faculty publications in top-tier international academic journals.
That makes me think about ISBs policy of developing/retaining faculty. How do you attract quality faculty? I ask him. Now if I want to get the best PhDs from the finest schools of the world,and I am in competition with those schools to hire them,what I should ideally offer them is a particular compensation,a particular lifestyle. So I give them compensation,which,if you go by PPP,equals what they get anywhere. Then I give them this environment,this campus,which is quite global. Additionally,I give them a network of people,which is quite international. So you see its a mix of hard and soft factors that I provide to attract the best faculty in the world. Can attracting,developing and retaining faculty get any simpler? he smiles. I know it is not simple,ISB makes it look so!
I pick an attractive looking leaflet from his desk,which says,among other facts,ISB is the largest provider of executive education in India,and among the largest in Asia. I ask him,How is the Post Graduate Programme in Management for Senior Executives (PGPMAX) at ISB different from the regular executive MBA programmes? He replies,It was two years ago that PGPMAX was designed for those senior executives whose busy schedules do not permit them to pursue a full-time programme. So,this one was for those fast rising senior executives who want to pursue a formal quality management programme while they continue to work. How is the response? I interrupt. The response is really good. See Ill explain,if you look into any professional education,there is a concept of internship,meaning a professional education will always be a mix of academics and practical knowledge. If you take MBA,it has got a concept of a summer job,but somewhere it is always felt that the summer job might be too less a practical knowledge. And to create business leaders out of those functional leaders who have gained that practical knowledge is the aim of PGPMAX, he adds.
Would you like to have lunch? Its time,and you can meet the dean also, he asks me. Why not,I have read a lot about Mr Ajit Rangnekar, I reply. While leaving his office,taking a detour via the library,I notice,on a wall,names of various students who have set up their own start-ups. I forgot to ask about entrepreneurship at ISB? Thats why I took you here, he smiles,adding,Economic growth of any country is directly connected to entrepreneurship,because it is the entrepreneurs who create new ideas,new businesses,thus creating wealth. Therefore,it is very important for us to promote entrepreneurship in this country because it is going to bring in innovativeness (the way the world needs to operate in future) and growth. As I shake hands with him,he asks me,Have you read Modern History? I reply in the affirmative. Tell me who is among the earliest entrepreneurs of the Modern World? I reply in negative. Christopher Columbus. Finding a new continent was a case of entrepreneurship. I rerun my history lessons. Indeed,historically,if some countries were able to leapfrog others,it was because of entrepreneurship.